Everything about India was overwhelming at first. The busy streets, horns constantly honking, people trying to sell you trinkets, the smog in the air, smell of oil wafting from the street vendors- every sense is immediately overcome by new stimuli.
I loved it. My experience in the last port we were in, Mauritius, was way more lax and peaceful. I had just spent the day tanning on a catamaran and snorkeling. But, as soon I arrived in Delhi, I knew this was going to be a whole new experience for me.
The food was INCREDIBLE. I was so excited for this port for that reason specifically. I grew up eating Indian food all the time at home so it’s a comfort food for me. I apologize in advance for the second picture I can never remember to take pictures of food before I eat! But as you can see we finished it all so that just represents how good it is.
If you don’t like spice, some of these may not be for you! One thing I noticed everyone loved, though, was naan. We ate baskets upon baskets of it. It might not be the healthiest, but you can’t come to India and not try the naan, can you?
What I did:
I signed up for a field program called Animal Sanctuary and Elephant Conservation. We arrived in Kochi, a city in southern India and flew to Delhi. We visited an animal sanctuary called All Creatures Great and Small. It is home to hundreds of animals including dogs, cats, horses, goats, donkeys, pigs, and more. The sanctuary has made such a difference in the lives of these animals, rescuing dogs from fighting or other hostile situations. Many of the animals are disabled such as amputees, blind, or deaf. For more information, visit http://allcreaturesgreatandsmall.in/
The next day we visited an elephant sanctuary. Here we learned the story of Raju, an elephant who had been tortured for decades and was rescued. He, along with around 15 other elephants who were also rescued from dangerous captors, now reside in this sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives peace. For more information, visit https://wildlifesos.org/
A note about this one though, this day was a little rough because we drove about 4 hours to reach the elephants, only stayed about an hour, and then drove another two hours to the hotel. We also didn’t get to touch or even go close to the elephants. I understand this is most likely for our safety and theirs, but just make sure that if you want to make the trek out there, that it’s worth it for you.
And, lastly, the Taj Mahal it was even more stunning in person. An absolute wonder of the world.
Overall, I have nothing negative to say about India. There were a few things that did make me feel really out of place- such as the constant photos being taken of us and locals asking to take selfies with us. It’s rare to see such a huge group of young, white girls in India, so I did understand, but it definitely made me uncomfortable. But, I realized we were taking just as many pictures of them and their country, so it’s important to understand it goes both ways. I also observed that hygiene and general cleanliness is treated differently here than in America. Things that Americans might be offended by, such as people not wearing deodorant or no proper toilets, are not as big of a deal in Indian culture. They, in fact, consider toilet seats where everyone’s bottom sits to be unclean, so would bathrooms in which you squat instead. I certainly learned a lot from this culture.
India- I WILL BE BACK!